The recently released HBO movie Fahrenheit 451, based on the book by the late Ray Bradbury, depicts a future in which books are banned. Not only are they banned, owning books is criminal, “firemen” burn books, and from the time children are young, they are taught to hate books. Only three books, available in a futuristic online form, are deemed necessary: the Bible, Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse, and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
This coming week, we have the opportunity to see that a future sans books is unlikely — at least in this neck of the woods. Bibliophiles of all ages will gather outside the doors of Reed Intermediate School in the wee morning hours, Saturday, anticipating the first day of the 43rd Annual Friends of the C.H. Booth Library Book Sale. From youngsters to book club members to collectors to avid and casual readers, the temptation of more than 120,000 books and related items will prove irresistible.
Books are cherished, even in these days of e-books and online reading options. For those who love the physical book, the smooth feel of paper slipping past fingertips is a rich sensation. There is an easily identified scent to books: a “new book” smell, or that of a book that has aged to perfection on a shelf — or sometimes, a certain mustiness of those that lingered in corners of attics or basements. Cover images, book flaps, the back cover quotes — even the first blank pages of a novel — add to the experience. It is, for book nerds, an indefinable combination that makes for moments of serenity.
Those who teach reading know the satisfaction of a student grasping the complicated process of letters and sounds, and of seeing the excitement when a young person realizes, “I can read!” Certainly, there are endless opportunities now to practice reading without ever cracking open a bound volume, but it may be only Science Fiction writers who can imagine a time when the beauty of the book is disregarded.
Last year, CNN Money reported a fall in sales for e-books, while hardcopy book sales climbed. Just as LPs have found a niche among young people, print books seem to be enjoying a comeback.
Dozens of volunteers have been sorting, organizing, and categorizing books, CDs, DVDs, and LPs for the coming five-day sale. It is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Friends, and one that will help bring new programming, add to collections, fund technology upgrades, and support services at the C.H. Booth Library.
The Bible, To The Lighthouse, and Moby Dick could well be found at this sale, but they will be three among thousands. Alas, Fahrenheit firemen, the only crimes committed in the coming days in this town will be if shoppers do not find a treasure trove of reading material at the Friends’ sale by July 11, the final, free book day.
Get fired up to support this worthwhile cause. Ignite your burning desire to read.